Buying your first vehicle is an exciting (and sometimes overwhelming) process! It can be fun to pick out the model, color, and features you like, but talking budget and comparisons might not be quite as riveting as you might have thought. But buying your first vehicle doesn’t have to be totally stressful. To help you navigate the process, we’re answering the most frequently asked questions from first-time vehicle buyers. From finding the right make and model to figuring out a realistic financing plan, we’ve got you covered.
Is leasing for me?
If you’re not quite ready to commit to buying a new car, leasing a vehicle may be a good alternative for you. Rather than front loading your investment for a new car right away, you get the chance to sort of “test drive” a vehicle before fully committing to it. So, if you’re not sure whether you want a Toyota or a Subaru for example, you might find that your local dealership offers leasing options for limited contracts. Just be aware that most leasing contracts include limits on how many miles you can put on the vehicle and other restrictions. So if you’re a regular road tripper, this might not be the best investment for you as mile overages can get pricey!
If leasing seems like the right option for you but you want some more freedom with your leasing plan, try leasing with fair from Uber. Fair is completely app-powered and gives drivers the flexibility to drive extra miles and sign up for short-term contracts.
How do I establish the right budget for me?
Everyone’s budget is going to be a little different. If you have a financial advisor, talk with them before you start shopping for a vehicle to see what you can afford and if there are any lending options they can offer you to help you make your down payment.
As a general rule, keep these figures in mind:
- Your monthly car payment should be no more than 15% of your gross pay
- The down payment should be at least 20% of the purchase price
- The maximum term of a car loan should be no more than 48 months
What’s the difference between new and used vehicles?
The moment you drive off the lot in a brand new vehicle, the value depreciates. Whether it’s a cool $1,000 or $7,000, this factor is one of the main reasons so many consumers opt to buy used rather than new vehicles. When you buy a used vehicle that’s still in excellent condition, you’re typically buying it for what it’s really worth (and not eating the depreciation cost yourself). If you’d rather save some cash than revel in that new car smell, consider looking at your local dealership’s used car inventory. Our solution? Search for a used VW in Las Vegas for example, and spritz your new (to you) Jetta with a new car smell air freshener spray and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Can I get the features I want and stay within my budget?
Of course you can! With a little creativity and research, you can certainly get the luxury car experience even if you’re on a basic budget. Radio in your car not up to speed? Outfit your new vehicle with an aftermarket stereo instead! Depending on the vehicle make and model and the cost of the stereo add-on you choose, this could help you save money and still get you the features you want.
What model is right for me?
It depends! Depending on your space needs, style preferences, and must-have features, you’ll probably have a different opinion than me, your friend, or your neighbor. The most important thing to think about when buying your first car is your use. Do you live in an area with snow? You may want to look for a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Or maybe you live in Los Angeles and spend a lot of time in traffic— in this case, a hybrid or fully electric vehicle may be a good move for your driving habits. Everyone is different! So just consider how much you drive, where you drive, and the basic features you need before you even step onto the lot.
Can I negotiate on price?
Sometimes. Depending on where you’re buying your new vehicle, as well as the car’s value, you may or may not be able to negotiate on price. Before providing a counteroffer to the dealership or private seller, make sure to check the vehicle’s current value.
You’re going to have a lot of questions when buying your first car— and that’s okay! Just use this guide to help you navigate the process and you’ll be driving off the dealership lot in a car you love in no time.